Does NZ Have Its Own Donald Trump?

It seems some New Zealanders have features in common with the White House horror show. For example I read that Jackson Cropp had this to say about the reporting of Jan Cameron’s death.

After Swim Vortex published that horrendous article on Jan Cameron, this is good news some might think! It is a shame the media all around the world are becoming increasingly biased…makes you wonder if we are all better off without them?

The following comment was posted in reply to Cropp’s sage piece of enlightenment.

I thought that article was unfair too, but it was the only one I had that was authentic at the time. That’s why I took it down here and replaced it when I had a better one. If you think you are better off without media like Vortex-(and perhaps NZSwim?) shall I simply shut this page down and leave you all to it?

Wow, Crop must only be about twenty-three years old. His opinions on a free press are however better suited to someone three times that age. How do you get to your early twenties and believe already that the media are “increasingly biased” and wonder if we would be better off without them.

Clearly Cropp has no idea what a world without a free press would be like. If he did he wouldn’t wonder something as clearly imbecilic as whether we would be better off without them. His knowledge of the meaning of media bias is equally wanting. Being critical of some aspects of Jan Cameron’s performance does not make an article horrendous or biased.

To justify that position Cropp has an obligation to explain why the article is wrong. What lies did it tell? Just shouting names is not sufficient – especially when he was only 15 or 16 years old when Jan left New Zealand.

He wasn’t old enough to hear from New Zealand swimmers excluded from Manchester Commonwealth Games team meetings because they weren’t coached by Jan Cameron. Being ostracised from the national team for swimming in the “wrong” squad – now that really is bias. But Cropp, Jan Cameron did that. Ironically the only two swimmers who won medals at that Games were two of those that Jan left out in the cold.

Cropp has probably never read the Ineson Report that lead to Jan leaving Swimming New Zealand. He wouldn’t know about the report’s condemning conclusions. And so for the benefit of his education here is how the NZ Herald reported on Jan’s performance. Mind you, in Cropp’s world the NZ Herald is probably biased and something we could all do without. I have highlighted in bold the most damning paragraph. It sure looks to me like the criticism in SwimVortex and Swimwatch was very gentle compared to the reality of the time.

Much has been made since the report’s release about swimming getting a second chance ahead of London but revelations about a “dysfunctional” and “negative” environment and “lack of leadership” point to no New Zealander matching Loader’s feat, or even getting on the podium.

Ineson’s determined the high performance programme “has to change if the swimmers are to have a chance of winning medals in London.”

There can be no doubt Jan Cameron, as general manager of performance and pathways, Mike Byrne as chief executive and the SNZ board are among those seen as involved in the sport’s lack of performance at elite level.

Ineson’s report states that: “Many spoke about the failure of leadership at the three critical organisational levels – chair of SNZ’s Board (governance); the CEO (operational) and the GM performance and pathways (high performance). The thrust of the criticism was that the dysfunctional environment at the HP centre had been festering for some time; was ‘public knowledge'; but little or nothing had been done to rectify it.

Ineson interviewed 86 people involved in the sport, concluding 91 per cent attributed the poor culture at the high performance centre as a significant barrier to success at London; 83 per cent criticised the leadership of SNZ and the high performance programme; and 69 per cent questioned the need for Cameron’s position and that of a head coach.

That analysis is backed by three clear patterns in New Zealand swimming since the Commonwealth Games in October, as previously reported in the Herald on Sunday.

First, the culture of fear; where no athlete would speak on the record for fear of reprisal.

Second, there was the cover-up around Daniel Bell’s drinking post-Commonwealth Games in Delhi.

Third, there was a sense of ‘mutiny’ in the regions which could yet see the board rolled in favour of a fresh start.

Sources spoken to by the Herald on Sunday say the current board will struggle to re-build trust. Coulter would not confirm Cameron’s future in the high performance programme. “Her current role mightn’t exist. Whether she is part of the programme going forward is yet to be seen.”

Coulter admits they need to engage in more transparency with top athletes by treating them as adults. That means dealing closely with the swimming arm of the New Zealand Athletes Federation, led by three-time Olympian Helen Norfolk.

And the reply to Cropp claiming that the SwimVortex report is unfair only further demonstrates the ignorance of the author. He knows nothing of the distress that affected swimming at that time. I don’t know what he was doing between 2000 and 2010. Whatever it was, it certainly did not involve competitive swimming. There is nothing worse than those with extremely little knowledge passing themselves off as experts. I am delighted to see that he seems to understand his deficiencies. Why else would he conclude by asking the question “shall I simply shut this page down and leave you all to it?”

Thank you for the offer – we gratefully accept.

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